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Contemporary design and its discontents.

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The clarion call for architectural conformity may prove to be urban redevelopment’s greatest hurdle. Small business owners and residents in formerly blighted districts who invested in the neighborhood first—the “pioneers” so to speak—often assert themselves powerfully into any proposals to alter the neighborhood that come from that second generation of investors—i.e., the ones jumping the …Read more…

Daylighting.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve had a meta-post (blogging about my own blogging), but I’m due for one this time around. Back in May, I blogged about the Brass Mill Center, a very suburban-styled mall in the heart of Waterbury, Connecticut’s inner city.  I’m generally happy with how the article turned out, but most of …Read more…

Hustling all the antiques under one roof.  

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Even metros with the most resilient of economies couldn’t salvage many of their historic buildings downtown during the 1970s, the virtually undisputed nadir of urban America. The imbroglio facing most cities wasn’t just a lack of investment—there simply wasn’t even any psychological interest. (Not surprisingly, “interest” and “investment” go hand in hand…in more ways than …Read more…

Fencing in the human will.

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Driving westward from the suburbs to downtown Grand Rapids earlier this year, I came across an unusual road sign.   Needless to say, it wasn’t easy to read, but it clearly wasn’t a conventional one. In Grand Rapids (as in many cities), most street signage uses a bold, white sans-serif lettering against a green background, as …Read more…